sweet future sabotage

Ode to Tom Hiddleston’s Hip Bones
for Liz

Dear, sweet Hiddlebones.
Like, seriously?  Wow.  I–
I can’t even.  Nom.

 ***

This poem was originally inspired by this picture which I discovered last weekend while on Pinterest. Of course, this only led me to other Pinterest pages, which only made the need for poetic expression so much worse.  This is what I refer to as ‘Pinception’.

…I’m really looking forward to someday having a respectable writing career where my plays are performed and my books are published and the hilarity that will ensue when the critics find all of the creepy haikus I’ve posted on the internet.

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winning the blame game

I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about blame.  Blame is a pretty pervasive force in my life and some days (read as:  weeks) it weighs on me a lot more than others (i.e. this one).

The thing I find most interesting about blame as a general concept is that it has such a fine containment field.  For me, there’s a massive difference between Owning a Mistake and Taking the Blame.  While this is more or less an issue of semantics for many people, this is something I struggle with on an almost daily basis.  It’s important to take responsibility for the mistakes that you make.  It’s a part of being a mature, functioning human being and I highly encourage everyone to try it whenever possible.  Where this can become a problem – where it shifts from healthy ownership to destructive guilt – is when your way of taking responsibility is to assume all blame for every problem that is at all associated with you in any way and proceed to give yourself a psychological beating every time you screw something up in even the tiniest way.

That’s me, by the way.  Hello.

I’d like to say that stopping this behaviour has gotten easier with time and training.  I’d like to say that telling myself that it’s silly to blame myself for everything and judge myself harshly for any and all mishaps has brought me some sort of enlightenment.  Sometimes that’s true.  Sometimes that’s hooey.  Today it’s hooey.  Tomorrow will be better.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine last night, someone who has very similar issues of self-judgment and loathing.  We didn’t exactly come to any sort of consensus on how to solve this problem other than eating our body weight in Steak ‘n’ Shake chili mac supreme, which is sadly not going to happen because we live about 800 miles apart and there is a disappointing lack of Steak ‘n’ Shakes in the gaping expanse that resides between us.  What we did agree on was that this whole issue of judging ourselves for everything we do is a helluva lot easier to cope with when we know that the other person is only a phone call away.  In the midst of everything bleak and painful, there’s always going to be that soft voice on the other end of the line that says, ‘I’m here.’  And that’s something to celebrate, I think:  having someone else think you’re fantastic when you can’t even think you’re decent.  I’m really glad I have that.  It’s a brilliant thing to have.

***

I know a lot of people who have various issues with anxiety and/or depression.  This is a hazard of working in any sort of artistic field or just generally being a person.  I was recently directed to this pretty fantastic blog post about realistic ways of coping with depression that’s definitely worth the read if you have some free time.  She uses words like ‘solipsism’, which is great because you can feel all fancy about reading the word ‘solipsism’ today.  There it is again!  Look at how academic you are!  Use it in a sentence today!  Knowledge is power!

But more important than building your vocabulary, I just want you to know that I hope you do something nice for yourself today, even if it doesn’t seem like anything at all.  Make yourself some jam on toast.  Take a little walk to get a soda.  Congratulate yourself on your encyclopaedic knowledge of Sherlock trivia.  Read.  Whatever it is, enjoy it.  You deserve it.  I think you did a really good job today, even if you don’t.  Especially if you don’t.

on an unrelated note, never gulp a rob roy. ever. this is not a euphemism.

Recently, I had an epiphany in Target — like ya do — and sorted out how to fix a play that has been wandering around my head for seven years.  I was in the middle of finishing a draft for another play, so my idea got put on the backburner so I didn’t start crossing the streams and talking to the wrong fictional characters.  When the time came to start my next project, I was dismayed to find that I no longer had a copy of my original draft.

Then I came home for a weekend.  And found that 2009 Kiri had cleverly copied all of her unfinished drafts onto a CD for future use.

victory squee

an approximate recreation of my reaction

There are few better victories than not having to start over.

an open letter to myself

Dear Today Kiri Who Was Just Bested By A Coffee Maker,

Hey, girl.  Nice bracelet.  Did a six-year-old make it for you?  No, seriously.  I know a guy.  He does good work.

I know you’re kind of a hot mess today.  You left your wallet in your other bag and have to run home before racing back downtown to catch your evening train.  You thought 1/2 was bigger than 3/4 because your fourth grade teacher taught you square dancing instead of fractionsThen you told your boss about it.  You work in the financing industry.  This personal reveal was a poor choice.  Stupid days happen, I know they do.  It might have something to do with staying up too late writing fan fiction.  Again.  No judgment, just a thought.  I’m brainstorming here.  But since you finished all of the copy editing you had to get done today and changed the lobby clock without breaking anything, I’m going to let your hot messery slide.  Because in spite of everything, you did your best today.  And I’m proud of you.

…But you should probably print your train ticket now before you forget about it for the 97th time today.  Just a suggestion.

Respectfully submitted,

Reasonable Kiri Who No One Believes Actually Exists

’til chapter three

I grew up on Disney.  I think most people did.  My most formative years took place over what I’ve heard called the ‘Disney Renaissance’ – the decade covering Little Mermaid through Mulan.  Well, technically Tarzan.  But did Tarzan save China?  I THINK NOT.  These were the days of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, of heroines who first branched out from ‘just pretty’ into ‘pretty badass’, paving the way for the likes of Tiana, Merida, and Anna.  I know I learned a lot from these films, and the work coming out of Disney probably had more influence over me than anything else I watched.  …Except Star Trek.  Which explains my socialist tendencies.

I developed this theory while at university; it may be familiar to some of you.  Being a girl who grew up on Disney, I naturally had a favourite Disney princess.  I’m pretty sure every girl does.  Ladies in the audience, think about it a minute:  who was your favourite princess when you were a kid?  Look at that for a minute.  Now look at your adult life and relationship choices.  Look at the choices you made in relationships that were less than stellar.

Now back to me.

Now back to me.

Now here’s my theory:  the poor relationship choices we make as adults mirror the disturbing subtext in the choices of our favourite princesses.  The issues we have with ourselves can be reflected in the more disturbing corners of our preferred princess’s psyche.

I’m going to use myself as an example.  It’s only fair.

Growing up, my favourite princess was Belle.  This is for obvious reasons.

Get it, grrrl.

Get it, grrrl.

Belle was the first princess with whom I ever actually related.  I wasn’t easily scared, cursed, or prone to narcolepsy, and while I wished for a home life that was better than my own, I was only too aware that the powers of my magical godmother were limited to puppetry and clowning.  Yes, that entire sentence was true.

But Belle was different.  She was like me.  People thought she was weird.  People thought she was too smart.  She was kind and courageous, but it was always in her own quiet way.  Like Belle, I was (am) a voracious reader, making friends in my head far more often than in the schoolyard.  She understood that the world was better in books, and we were safer when we stayed with our imaginary people than we were with the ones in our respective hometowns.

When Belle met the Beast and their relationship moved forward in the way relationships always seem to move forward in Disney films, I was completely sucked in.  Belle’s goodness changed the Beast.  Through Belle, he could see that people weren’t all bad, that someone cared for him enough to stick around.  His anger ebbed.  His hope grew.  And because Disney has never been subtle with metaphors, his inner beauty literally erupted into his outer form.  That was true love to me.  And that was the foundation on which I built my concept of romance.

Looking back now, I can see this wasn’t exactly an accurate representation of the love I would find in my teenage and young adult life.  I can see how the story was subverted to fit the objects of my desire.  I would date people who were troubled or angry or lost.  I would look at all of their flaws and think, I can make them better.  I knew there was a wonderful person in there somewhere, and since I was a person who was kind and clever, they would naturally become the same way with enough exposure to me.

And, naturally, this never actually worked.

Because life is not a Disney movie.

I saw something online recently that the criticism surrounding how Beauty and the Beast advocates Stockholm Syndrome is rather unfair.  Belle and the Beast are both outsiders:  Belle for her intellect and dislike of traditional roles and the Beast for his appearance.  Their othering is what brings them together.  They triumph in the end because of their differences and their compatibility.  It’s the first instance of The Guy not getting The Girl in a Disney film and that’s something I find very appealing.  Reading about this got me back to thinking about my hypothesis.  While I’ve done some reconsideration, I still stand by my original idea.  However, I’d like to add something to it.

I didn’t learn my bad relationship habits because of Disney.  Instead, I learned the wrong lesson when watching this film.  What I learned was that I can change him.  What I should have learned is this:  He may change for you.  But that is his choice.  It’s not your problem.

We are so quick to blame media for our problems, to say that video games or comic books are responsible for corrupting our children or increasing the divorce rate or furthering the gay agenda*.  It’s all nonsense, of course, as studies have shown time and again.  I think we continue to search for the blame in entertainment because it’s an easy out.  It allows ourselves to play innocent victims to corrupt organizations and faceless corporations, which is always more pleasant than acknowledging responsibility for our own actions.  However, the fact remains that not all fault can lie with the teacher.  Every student comes in for a lesson with their own personal biases.  While it’s completely possible that someone who’s already troubled could see Natural Born Killers and decide to go on a killing spree, not everyone who watches that film has this reaction.  Wouldn’t that suggest that the fault lies not in the presented material but in the interpretation by this one person?

Sure, I may have picked up this particular flawed gem of advice from too many re-watches of a Disney classic.  But if I’m completely honest with myself, I created the fantasy on my own.  I romanticize the dark, brooding type and always have.  It’s nice to think that everyone is sweet-tempered and considerate underneath all of their crusty layers.  But nice is different than good.  And nice is not the same as realistic.

But at least this provides a solid explanation for my fangirl crushes on Loki and Sherlock.

*The media in no way works to further the gay agenda.  By this point in time, it’s so well-organized that we just keep our secret communicator wristwatches tuned to the same frequency and wait for Uncle George to send the coordinates to our next meeting.  Much more efficient that way.

{excerpt from ‘no place i’m going’}

I spent a great deal of time in auditions this week, which leads to plenty of writing, but less self-reflected, blogish writing and more disappear-into-my-head-during-the-downtimes writing.  And while I hate to leave you without an update every week, I also think that posting a haiku to the amazing pasta salad I just ate is a bit of a cop-out.  (A haiku?  An haiku?  Grammar, why have you abandoned me?)  So here is something completely unnecessary and adorable that I wrote up earlier this week.  Don’t read through if you don’t want to see two dudes snuggling on a couch and maybe flirting a little.

*****

     Daniel smiled as he watched the pencil in Oliver’s hand.  The man was a breathing hypocrisy.  His handwriting was an illegible mess of shaky letters and ink blotches, but the strokes of his sketches were steady and precise.  His skin was forever fever-hot to the touch but he always bundled up like an Antarctic explorer.  Sometimes Daniel caught his eyes off in some distant, murky world, but he had never known a quicker smile nor a brighter laugh.  He wondered if Oliver would ever cease amazing him as he breathed in deep the astringent tea.

‘What did you call this liquid atrocity?’  He nudged Oliver’s bouncing knee with a bare toe.

Oliver smiled and grabbed Daniel’s foot with his free hand.  ‘Rooibos.’  The word was strange music on his lips.  ‘My dad swore by it.’

‘And it will help me how?’

‘Don’t be sour, Danny.  Even if you are sick.’  He bent to fish through his tattered bag.  Daniel was lost for a moment in the shape of his forearm, for once exposed by a rolled-up sleeve.  A small scar halfway down on the left side, like a scab he wouldn’t stop picking.  His gaze fell to Oliver’s hand as he pulled out a new pencil, identical to the last in Daniel’s eye, but clearly a world of difference for Oliver.  The butt of his hand was smudged black and dark marks lined the inside of his middle finger.  Daniel spotted scratches on his thumb and the back of his hand, calluses from long hours holding his pen, torn cuticles and bitten nails.  He realised too late that Oliver was looking at him.

‘What, love?’

‘I said it’s full of antioxidants.’

‘What is?’

‘Rooibos.’

‘Oh.  Good show.’

‘What were you thinking about?’  That crooked, impish smile again, as if he already knew.

‘No.  I don’t want you to get a big head.’  Oliver laughed and Daniel felt it melt into his toes.

‘You’re quite sweet when you don’t feel well.’

‘It’s a trick.  To make you take care of me.’

‘It’s working.’  He frowned at his drawing, placed a final flourish, and set down his pencil.  ‘There.’

‘Can I see?’

‘No.’  Oliver spun to Daniel.  ‘You should sleep.’

‘I’m not tired.’

‘Of course you’re tired.  You’re sick.’

‘I’m not a child, Oliver.’

‘No, you’re sick.  Rooibos and sleep.  Best thing for you.’

‘But I’m not done with my…roybus?’

‘Rooibos.’

‘Rowboat?’

‘You’re getting worse.’

‘I’m not done with my tea.’

Oliver laughed again, grinning at him from under messy fringe.  ‘Alright.  What shall we do instead?’

Daniel sighed and stretched.  ‘Let’s have a film.’

‘What film?

‘I don’t know, darling.  Any film.’

‘I’ll fall asleep.’

‘Good.  Then I’ll fall asleep.  Everyone wins.’

‘Why will my falling asleep make you fall asleep?’

‘I’ve grown accustomed to my hot water bottle.’  He smiled at Oliver and set down his mug.  ‘Now put something on the telly and come be with me.’

‘Alright.’  Oliver gave his foot a squeeze and crawled to the television.  Daniel stretched and snuggled into his blanket.  ‘How about this one?’  Oliver held up a case.  Daniel squinted and nodded.  ‘What’s it about?’ he asked, putting in the disc and flopping onto the couch.

‘I’ve no idea; I couldn’t see the box.’

‘Here.’  Oliver scooted in behind Daniel and under the blanket.  He settled Daniel in his arms.  ‘It’s got Jack Nicholson on the cover.  Something about a bird.’

‘Wait, you’ve never seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?’

‘I don’t watch a lot of films.’  He yawned as if to demonstrate.

‘Yes, but there’s films and then there’s Cuckoo’s Nest.’

‘You sound like ’Jani.  Always yelling about Lawrence what’s-his-name.’

‘You are not telling me you don’t know Lawrence Olivier.’

‘See, this is why I think you’d’ve gotten on well.’

‘We would’ve had some key differences.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like both of us wanting to shag you.’

‘I think we could’ve worked something out.’

‘Of course you do, darling.’  He nudged Oliver’s temple with his nose.  ‘Meanwhile, Ajani and I are duelling each other for your hand.’

‘Did you cut it off?’

‘Good Lord, are you already asleep?  You’re acting batty.’

‘You’re all warm and snuggly.’

‘I have a fever.’

‘I like it.’

Daniel sighed and resigned himself to Oliver’s madness.  ‘I don’t know why I tolerate you.’

‘Because I make you Rooibos.’

‘Which I don’t even like.’

‘You’ll thank me in the morning.’  He yawned like a jungle cat before returning his attention to the screen.  ‘What’s happening?  I thought this took place in the mountains.’

‘I don’t know, darling.  You’re talking through the exposition.’

‘Are…are they in a prison?’

‘It’s an asylum.’

‘Where are the Alps?’

‘What–?’  Daniel turned to stare at him.  ‘What on Earth are you talking about?’

‘Cuckoos are from the Alps, aren’t they?’

‘It’s a metaphor–  Oh, never mind.’  He laid back in Oliver’s arms.  ‘Could you fall asleep already?  I’m exhausted.’

Oliver kissed the top of his head.  ‘I told you so.’

He dozed off within minutes.

 

© Kiri Palm 2014